Congo Bars.

I’m wary of superlatives. Skeptical when it comes to suffixes of the -est variety. I’m bashful with “best,” moderate with “most.” Even in my high school yearbook, I felt uneasy seeing my face next to the phrase, “Most Likely To Brighten Your Day.” I walked the halls for the last weeks of senior year wondering if I could possibly have made one person’s day sunnier. Doubtful.

But sometimes, just sometimes, when the moment is right and the conditions are just so, I’ll utter a statement so bold that I’m willing to back it with my whole bankroll. That’s right, two looming stacks of nickels. The last $50 to my name.

Today, my friends, is one of those times. I hope you’re seated. I’m going to tell you something that I’ve come to believe in as fully as the divine right of peanut butter to marry fluff. A conviction of sorts.

These are the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. There. I know, that was quite frightening. I’m terrified of words like “never,” phrases ending in “ever,” and all things set in stone. But when it comes to these chewy squares, I’m brazen.

Congo bars. Thick, buttery squares of ultra-chewy brown sugar dough studded with rich white chocolate, threaded with flaked coconut, and smoky toasted pecans. One bite is a melting, gritty mouthful of luscious flavor and varied texture.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a baker at heart. Don’t let the blogtitle fool you. I cook; I make dinner every night; but I’m nothing without my beloved butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. Lost without chocolate. This recipe is the one that I’m begged to bake over and over again. Family, friends, friends of friends, friends of my aunt’s neighbor’s dog’s breeder, you name it, come calling for a 13×9 of these rich treats. “You sure you don’t want me to bake a sour cream fudge cake filled with vanilla buttercream and glazed with chocolate ganache?”…”Yup. Just bring the bars.”

If you didn’t already believe in magic, these would convince you. It’s a wonder why Jehovah’s witnesses don’t tote these door to door. Everyone would convert.

Congo Bars, recipe from Cooks Illustrated– my favorite cooking and baking website

  • 1 cup pecans (or walnuts), toasted and chopped
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened shredded coconut ( I use sweetened)
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 TBSP unsalted butter (1.5 sticks), melted and cooled
  • 1.5 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract ( I know, it’s a lot)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread nuts on a larged rimmed baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer nuts to cutting board to cool; chop coarsely and set aside. The recipe also directs you to toast the coconut on same rimmed baking sheet, stirring 2 to 3 times, until light golden, about 5 to 7 minutes, but note: I do not toast the coconut.

Fit two pieces of aluminum foil into a 13 by 9″ baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges.

Spritz evenly with nonstick cooking spray. NOTE: It’s important to line the pan with foil because you want to be able to remove the bars from the pan by simply lifting the foil overhang on both sides. Then, you can peel down the foil and slice them perfectly.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk melted butter and brown sugar together in medium bowl until combined.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix.

Fold in chocolate, coconut, and nuts. NOTE: I like to toss the three add-ins together in a bowl before adding them to the batter so that I can ensure an even dispersal.

Turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.

Bake until top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes; do not overbake. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Comments

  1. says

    Why — oh why — does my hubby have to be allergic to nuts? I totally want to make this recipe! Maybe I will and then have all my gal friends over for a girl’s night. Lol. Any excuse just so I can make these

  2. says

    Wow, the best cookies ever?! You just make me laugh. I am the opposite, and declare that each meal is “the best one ever!” until the next plate of food sits in front of me and I think this must, without a doubt, ACTUALLY be the best meal ever. These do, though, look delicious. I will have to try them!

  3. says

    Yikes, these look awesome. Maybe it’s the coconut. Or the white chocolate. Or, I’m sure, the butter. Either way, I can understand why you say they’re the best even without tasting them. These would be deadly in my house.

  4. says

    My son is allergic to nuts, but I’m omitting the pecans and baking up a batch of these. They look amazing. Chewy, melty, divine.

  5. says

    You just put all my favorite things into a cookie. I heart you. :) I’m bookmarking this for the next time I’m having a craving for cookies….

    And people always ask me to bring scotcheroos everywhere I go. It’s the simplest recipe ever, and not very elegant, but they disappear faster than anything I’ve ever seen…

  6. says

    haha my mama makes something close to this but she calls them monster bars… looks like an EXPENSIVE treat! ill stick to throwin some coconut on my fage!

  7. says

    AM
    SO
    MAKING
    THESE

    I heard brown sugary dough, and butter and coconut…and oh my

    I think this weekend’s treat is going to be these!

    guess I’d better get another mile on the treadmill in over the week!

    xoxo

  8. says

    I shouldn’t be looking at your blog at all, it just makes me want to eat those yummie bars right now. (Just kidding, will keep returning. :-)) I love coconut and nuts and white chocolate. I’m not a big baker though (yet), mainly because if I bake, I want to eat all of it myself. Might have to work on that… The bars are mouth-watering!

  9. says

    Dear Andrea – I consider you the reigning Queen of Cookie World so for you to say the best cookies ever? ‘Nuf said!

    I HAVE to make these soon for the kids and will keep you posted :)

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  10. says

    Those bars make me happy…kind of in that way that make me want to dance. I was glad that I was seated for this post because those indeed look like “The Best Cookies Ever”!!! I think I need to make them now.

  11. says

    I love congo bars! And these look heavenly!!! Oh my gosh… I can’t wait to bake them. I’m actually visiting the fam right now, and I know what I’m going to be making for dessert tomorrow night. :) I’m sure they’ll be a huge hit! Thanks for sharing the recipe for the best cookies ever! :)

  12. says

    i have never heard of or had a congo bar before but just the NAME of it sounds like something insanely delicious. why? i have no idea! who thinks “yummy” when they hear the word “congo?” but pair it with “bar” and i start salivating….

  13. Kate says

    I just made these with the toasted pecans and instead of white chocolate chips, I used butterscotch ones. The aroma in my house is deadly intoxicating! Must.stay.away. from the pan!

  14. says

    Whyyyyyy am I reading your blog in the late afternoon, when I really want a sugary bake-edy treat, but I’m stuck at desk, which is far, far away from my oven?? { pouting. }

  15. Robin Heike says

    I made these using unsweetened coconut and used milk chocolate chips and walnuts as that is what I had on hand. They were delicious. We brought them to someone’s house for dessert, thank goodness or we would not have been able to stop eating them.

  16. Big fan says

    I made these and brought them in to work and they were a huge hit!! They were super yummy and I had to share the recipe with a couple people :]

  17. PJ says

    If you bake with as much panache as you express yourself in writing, these will ROCK! I just quoted your description over the phone to my husband…..you’re hilarious and I BELIEVE you for sure!!

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